Chapter 1

Inside the confines of a great hall in St. Mary's Catholic Church, the aroma of slowly roasting chicken lingers in the atmosphere. A series of activities were unfolding. Hard working men and women struggled to unfold tables and chairs. In the kitchen area, a teenager started her weekly ritual of opening cans of green beans and corn. A steady stream of volunteers coming in and out of the kitchen for food that was ready to serve to the lines of homeless people that gathered every Sunday for a free meal. All the workers had an interesting life story that she or he shares while cutting carrots or peeling potatoes.

Robin has been a volunteer for the soup kitchen since she was in grade school. Now, a senior in high school, this would be her last year to volunteer. She will be off to college next year.

Preoccupied with her task, she did not notice that Maria was calling her name. Robin looked up and was surprise to see Maria standing in front of her with a boy her age. Robin instantly recognizes the boy. Mark Christian was one of those guys that can stop a girl in their track. He was her secret crush since freshman year. He had blue eyes that always appeared to be staring into the distance and always made her wonder what he sees. His hair fell in brown waves just above his shoulders. His body was muscular and athletic. His best asset was his gorgeous blue eyes that can melt any girl in seconds. He played every sport imaginable. Robin stood mesmerized thinking she must be daydreaming.

"Robin, honey…are you ok?"

Robin finally snapped out of her revelry. Feeling her cheeks getting hotter, Robin shyly nodded. She could not bring herself to stare at him any longer; he has a way of flustering her.

"This is Mark Christian. He is our newest volunteer and he goes to the same school as you."

Mark looked over at Robin and nodded a cordial recognition. He knew of Robin. She was in several of his AP classes and was known for being brainy. He never really checked her out closely because she was the quiet and shy type. Nevertheless, he noticed the potential beauty underneath the wired rimmed glasses.

"Yes, I think you're in some of my classes."

"Robin, Can you show Mark what you do around here, he will be your partner."

Wow. Has God answered her prayers? She thought

This was the last place she expected to see Mark Christian. He was rich and popular. Why would he waste his time in a soup kitchen?

Mark came closer to where she stood and took a can of baked beans and opened it.

"Thanks Maria, I think we can manage here" Mark smiled at the old Spanish lady.

As usual, Mark Christian showed his nature as a born leader and after just a couple of minutes, he was in control of their duties. Robin watched from the corner of her eyes, the love of her life working side by side with her. He did not talk to her or even look at her unless he had a question. Yet she didn't care, she was happy. She was surprise that he even knew she was in some of his classes. Robin could not really blame him. She was not a raving beauty like most of the girls he knew. She dressed plain and wore her long wavy hair in a bun. She hid her bright emerald eyes underneath her glasses. She had contacts but preferred wearing her glasses. Robin was the smartest girl in her high school and has a full riding scholarship to USC. Her height was average and her frame small. She had a nice figure that she hid underneath layers of clothing. She participated in all the scholastic activities in school such as being a student rep, school newspaper, and member of the various intellectual clubs.

After they prepared the food, they helped served the homeless. Time flew by fast; Robin looked up at the clock and saw that it was nearing nine o'clock. Mark did not hang around much longer and took off in his BMW while Robin waited for Maria to give her a lift to her house.

"That Mark is nice looking boy. He must be very popular with the ladies."

Robin got in Maria's van and smiled.

"Yes, he is. I'm surprise that he volunteered for this."

"Ah yes. Not many kids will give up a Sunday afternoon to help the poor. Maybe Mark is more soulful than you give him credit, after all you can't judge a present by its package."

"I have no judgment of him. All the times I have seen him around, he just seem to be very self centered and snobby. I guess being gorgeous accentuates the attitude."

"Well, we will see if he shows up next week." Maria told her as they approached Robin's house. "Get some rest and may God bless you my child."

Robin waved goodbye and entered the house. She looked in the family room and noticed her uncle and aunt asleep on the sofa. Robin lived with her uncle and aunt and their daughter Gina who was the same age as Robin. She lost her parents to a car accident when she was young. She wished she had a nice story to tell about growing up in her uncle's house but there was none. She never felt that she really belonged in the family, and she felt as if she was a burden to them.

The next day, Robin waited patiently for her cousin Gina to finish putting make up on. Gina gave her a ride to school when it was raining, they would separate as soon as they arrive on school ground. Gina was the opposite of Robin; beautiful, popular, and snobby.

Gina came down the steps in low-rise jeans and a tight fitting shirt. Her gorgeous brunette hair styled to perfection and hung loosely down her back. Her hazel eyes well manicured with eyeliner. Her face was perfect. She scrunched her noise at Robin as soon as she saw her.

"For God sakes Robin, Aren't you tired of being so…mousy looking?"

Robin just ignored her comment and followed her to the car. Gina had always put her down. She was only nice to Robin when she needed help with her schoolwork. They arrived in school and as usual, Gina ignored her and went straight to her friends. The popular group congregated in the parking lot underneath a covered awning until the school bell rang. Robin headed toward the library. She stayed there and read until it was time for her first period class. She was always the first person in class.

Mark Christian sauntered in late as usual but the teacher never cared since he was the favorite. He fleetingly locked eyes with Robin and actually gave her a half smile. Robin turned around to see behind her to see if he really acknowledged her and not someone else. Robin just shyly looked away from him and did not acknowledge him. It took all her might not to look at him the rest of the period.

The rest of the day went fast for Robin. It was already lunchtime and she headed towards the lunchroom. The line for the food was exceptionally long and she noticed many of the seniors were in the lunchroom today. She saw her two friends, Brianna and Jeff already seated in their usually table. When it was her turn to pay for her food, Robin fumbled for her money in her purse and found that it was missing. Embarrassed, she can feel her cheeks starting to get hot. She heard someone from behind asking "what's the hold up?" Robin apologized to the cashier and was ready to put her food back when she saw Mark come over and hand the cashier money for her food. He gave her the same slight smile and then sat back down with his group.

"Move it already Einstein." a student shouted from the back. Robin snapped back into reality and started to walk away. As she reached the table that Mark's sat in, she stopped. Robin meekly tapped Mark on the shoulders. Mark turned around and Robin felt stupid standing there.

"Thanks, I will pay you back tomorrow." Robin told him almost in a whisper.

"Don't worry about it Robin." Mark told her with a full smile

"Well thanks again" Robin quickly left the table. She felt awkward since his group seemed to be intrigued that Mark actually acknowledged her. She heard Gina whisper loud enough to hear "Gosh how embarrassing."

Mark followed her with his eyes. He found her shyness refreshingly sexy even though he thought of her much too quiet. He noticed that she was not caught up in trying to fit in. Her intelligence made her more beautiful than any of the girls that he knew.

Robin walked to the furthest part of the lunchroom where her friend Jeff and Brianna sat.

"Hey Robin, what was that all about?" Jeff asked

Jeff was her unofficial companion. He was not gorgeous like Mark Christian and his looks are average. They were not dating but she attended most of the school's dance functions with him. It was like a partnership they had with each other. He was the president of the student counsel and was the editor for the school newspaper. He was very intelligent in his own right, second only to Robin.

"I lost my change purse and Mark C. paid for my food."

"Well why didn't you just flag one of us?"

Robin just shrugged her shoulders

"You know, Mark watched you walk away and told Michael to shut up." Brianna told her in awe.

"Oh, he was probably making sure that I left."

"Yeah I guess your right. Your cousin Gina was also looking in interest." Brianna agreed.

"Well it's not everyday that a guy like Mark Christian pays attention to someone like me." Robin told her slightly irritated at their conversation. Why must it be so weird that Mark Christian offers a little kindness to her? She hated the fact that they are in such opposite end of the social ladder.